Sony Hack Attack: Stocks Tumble in Wake of Data Breach

Stocks slip more than 10 percent as cyber assault continues against the studio

Sony Pictures

Sony’s stock has tumbled sharply over the past week week, underscoring a tough span that saw everything from the corporation’s upcoming projects, salaries and internal emails hacked.

Sony (SNE) shared plunged more than 10% since the beginning of last week, part of a general downturn for global markets and Japanese stocks. But Sony’s drop was particularly precipitous, raising the specter that the cyber attack by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace has unsettled investors.

The studio has tried to take the initiative in the attack, sending a letter to the media Monday from Sony counsel David Boies that the outlets treat the hacked material as stolen material and not publish further details from the breach. The letter confirms Sony suspicion that the Seth RogenJames Franco comedy “The Interview” is at the center of the attack, and that hackers have demanded the studio pull its support for the film, about a planned assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

It’s impossible to tell whether the cyber attack is at the taproot of Sony’s woes. Domestic box office revenues across the industry are down about three percent, and Sony has major holdings in home video, personal electronics and television. And tracking for the film has actually spiked in recent weeks, thanks in large part to the controversy.

But the leaks show no sign of slowing, and the studio has been fourth at the box office in 2013 and 2014, when the studio’s only offering to cross $200 million was “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” with $202.8 million. And Activist shareholder Dan Loeb has publicly pressured Sony to spin off a portion of its movie and music businesses to raise cash. The company refused, and Loeb ultimately sold the stock.

And there is a silver lining for stockholders. Overall shares of Sony are still up nearly 15% in 2014 even after this week’s slide thanks, to the PlayStation 4 gaming console and image sensors for smartphones and tablets.